#20 UCLA Women's Basketball (13-5, 5-2)
Opponent: #12 Stanford (15-4, 5-2)
When: 6:00 PM PST, Sunday, January 24, 2016
Where: Pauley Pavilion, Los Angeles, CA
Audio: Bruin Live Audio
Video: Pac-12 Networks
Live Stats: UCLA StatBroadcast
BIG GAME TONIGHT! #20 UCLA vs. #12 Stanford -First 1500 fans get a UCLA Jell-O Mold - 4 fans will win an IPAD Mini pic.twitter.com/XPrGOLa0mb— UCLA W. Basketball (@UCLAWBB) January 24, 2016
There are few if any easy games in the Pac-12 this season, yet the Bruins made it look easy against California on Friday night. UCLA didn't snap out of its shooting slump, but the Bruins had a more balanced, team-oriented offense, and picked up its defensive intensity to run away from the Golden Bears 75-56.
There were some good signs that emerged from the victory. UCLA's defense forced 20 turnovers, and the offense finally started to move the ball effectively again, racking up 17 assists against just 10 turnovers. The Bruins also dominated on the glass, and refreshingly, converted over 80% of their free throws.
Monique Billings turned in another strong performance with 14 points and 9 rebounds while Lajahna Drummer came off the bench to contribute 8 points and a game-high 12 rebounds. UCLA's top scorers Nirra Fields and Jordin Canada each scored a dozen.
There were a few negatives, though, including a poor 1-9 from beyond the arc in the first half. Overall, UCLA's two three-point specialists--Kari Korver and Kennedy Burke--were just 2-11 from deep. Those two will have to be sharper today for the Bruins to knock off the Cardinal.
UCLA and Stanford are currently tied for fourth place in the Pac-12, two games behind Arizona State, one game behind Oregon State, and half a game behind Washington. Because the Pac-12 is so strong this season, it will be very difficult for today's loser to claw back into title contention. Given the difficulty of winning on the road in the Pac-12, it's vital for UCLA to win its home games. Furthermore, since there isn't a Bay Area trip for the Bruins this season, a win against Stanford today will give UCLA the tiebreaker between the two teams.
Stanford is coming off a solid 10-point win over USC on Friday. As is typical for the Cardinal, the game against the Trojans was a low scoring affair. in fact, Stanford has scored more than 70 points just twice in Pac-12 play--against Utah and Colorado in Palo Alto. In its two conference losses--road games against Oregon State and Arizona State--Stanford was held to 50 points or less.
The Bruins match up fairly well with the Cardinal. Stanford's best player is junior forward Erica McCall. McCall averages 13.1 points/game and 9.5 rebounds/game. She also averages over 2 blocks/game, and anchors the Cardinal defense.
While UCLA likes to play uptempo, Stanford prefers a deliberate, half-court game. However, the Bruins could get in trouble by pushing the pace of the game if they fail to account for Karlie Samuelson in an open game; she's deadly (45.5%) on three-pointers and is good at driving and dishing.
Once again, the Bruins will need production at both ends of the court from forwards Billings, Drummer, and Kacy Swain, and good decision-making from Fields and Canada. If UCLA plays with the energy, poise and maturity we saw against Oregon State, then the Bruins have a good chance of sending Stanford home with a loss.